Online | Engineering the Brain: Technological Applications Inspired by the Nervous System

Boundary Crossing Science

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Wednesday | 16.02.22 | 19:00

Engineering the Brain: Technological Applications Inspired by the Nervous System

Second meeting |

(in Hebrew)

The Fifth Season of the Series "Talking about Science in the 21st Century"

Discussion with Prof. Orit Shefi

Moderated by Prof. Oren Harman, Bar-Ilan University; The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

The human brain is the most complex organ in nature, an enigma doctors, philosophers, psychologists and neurologists have been trying to solve for centuries. In a conversation with Prof. Orit Shefi, Director of the Bioengineering Track in the Faculty of Engineering and a member of the Gonda Multidisciplinary Research Center and the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials at Bar-Ilan University, we will discuss how crossing the boundary between biology and engineering and back again can inspire a new understanding of the brain and even help regenerate damaged nervous systems.

About the series:

The metaphor of crossing a boundary has many, varied meanings: We cross a boundary when we move from country to country, but also when we dare, go to extremes, or challenge conventional wisdom. As in life, so too in science, physical boundaries, but also philosophical, psychological and normative ones, are sometimes crossed. Crossing a boundary can destabilize us, but it can also excite us and spark our imagination. Famous examples include the crossing of the boundary of the skies by Icarus and the pioneers of flight who followed; the synthesis of the first organic compound; the theory of evolution which shattered the boundary between humankind and nature; the discovery of radioactivity and quantum mechanics, both of which crossed the boundary of the senses; the use of the atomic bomb; the flight to the moon; and the development of tools for gene editing today.

In the fifth season of the series “Talking about Science in the 21st Century” we will meet a diverse group of scientists who cross boundaries in a host of ways. We will converse with a medical informaticist who crosses the time barrier by using big data to predict morbidity and epidemics, with an engineer who is developing nanochips for treating ailments of the central nervous system, with a writer and physicist who moves between the worlds of fiction and reality, with a web researcher who examines the influence of digital sovereignty over national boundaries and national heritage, and with a scientist who grows mammalian embryos outside their mothers’ wombs.

The series will conclude with the screening of the Netflix film Black Holes: The Edge of All We Know followed by discussion with its director. The film portrays the dramatic attempt by different groups of scientists to cross a boundary that is impassable by definition: to see with their own eyes that which cannot be observed.

By looking at boundary crossings in science we will try to gain a better understanding of the disruptive power of science and technology, but also of the great promise they hold—the promise of change that enables us, and sometimes even requires us, to understand ourselves in new ways.

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